Vietnamese Silken Tofu in Ginger Syrup Dessert (Tau Hu Nuoc Duong)
Silken Tofu in Ginger Syrup (Tau Hu Nuoc Duong) is a light and delicate Vietnamese/Chinese dessert. You may have seen this dessert as one of the many offerings at Dim Sum. In Vietnam, this dessert is commonly sold as street food. Vietnamese women would lug around two large baskets on opposite ends of a pole over their shoulders and chant the name of the dish as they make their way through the narrow neighborhood alleys. Whenever we visit Vietnam, my extended family usually hail over the tofu dessert lady and buy out her whole supply. The family would enjoy a simple yet elegant dessert while helping out a hardworking woman.
This dessert is made from coagulated soy bean milk to form silken tofu and then generously topped with a sweet ginger syrup. You can easily buy silken tofu in the refrigerated section of many supermarkets. However, if you are looking for tofu in the purest form (without all those extra questionable ingredients), this is the recipe to make your own tofu. Homemade tofu made from pure soy milk has the most incredible flavor that is just perfect for this dessert.
To make your own tofu at home, all you need are soy beans and a coagulant. For this particular recipe, I’m using Glucono Delta Lactone as my coagulant. There are many other tofu coagulants like vinegar, lemon/lime juice, Nigari, Gypsum, epsom salt, etc. I find that the commercially produced coagulants such as Nigari, Gypsum and Glucono Delta Lactone result in the most consistent texture and flavor. However, the best one by far is Glucono Delta Lactone. It requires the least amount to successfully coagulate soy milk, resulting in much better flavor (the more coagulant, the bitter the flavor). Glucono Delta Lactone also results in the smoothest texture.
I do not recommend using store-bought soy milk to make this tofu. Previous experiences have shown that store-bought soy milk do not always coagulate properly. The proteins and fats in store-bought soy milk are simply not there to work with coagulants. The lack of proteins and fat prevents the soy milk from solidifying properly for tofu.
If you do decide to use store-bought soy milk, you must use the cheat-version of this recipe. The cheat-version doesn’t require a coagulant but a gelatin. Flavor and texture will be affected so use at your own risk.
Silken Tofu in Ginger Syrup (Tau Hu Nuoc Duong)
- 1 cup dried soy beans
- 10 cups water (half for soaking and other half for cooking)
- 1/2 teaspoon Glucono Delta Lactone
- Small bunch Pandan leaves or clear Pandan extract (optional)
- Pinch salt
- 1 knob of ginger (about 30 grams, peel and thinly slice)
- 1 cup brown sugar
- 1/2 cup water
- Large mesh bag for straining soy milk
- Blender (preferably a high-powered Vitamix)
Brown Sugar Syrup
- Soak the dried soy beans overnight (or 8 hours) with 5 cups water. When fully hydrated, soy beans will triple in size. Discard soaking water, rinse beans and drain dry.
- In a high-power blender like a Vitamix, add soy beans and 5 cups water. Blend on the highest setting for 30 seconds. If using any other blender, you may have to blend a little longer until soy beans are broken into small granuales.
- Place a large mesh bag into a pitcher and transfer content of blender into the bag. Tie the mesh bag close. Using clean hands, squeeze the mesh bag in different sections to extract the milk into the pitcher. Be careful not to squeeze too hard, which can potentially pop the bag.
- Transfer soy milk into a medium-size sauce pan and heat on medium high until you see wisps of steam escaping the milk (do not walk away as milk can boil over quickly). Add pandan leaves/extract and salt. Cook the soy milk at this temperature for 5 minutes. Remove pandan leaves and discard.
- In a small bowl, dissolve Glucano Delta Lactone powder with 2 tablespoons water. Pour coagulant into a large bowl. Tilt the bowl so that all the bottom and sides are coated with a thin layer of dissolved coagulant. Quickly pour hot soy milk into the prepared bowl so it mixes the soy milk with coagulant. Scoop out any bubbles on the surface. Wrap a towel over the bowl to retain heat. Allow the tofu to set at room temperature for 30-40 minutes.
- To make the syrup, place ginger, brown sugar and water in a small sauce pan and bring it to a boil over medium heat, stirring unil sugar dissolves. Reduce heat to a low simmer for 5 minutes or until liquid slightly thickens.
- When ready to serve, use a large thin metal spoon or spatula to scoop out delicate slivers of tofu into small bowls. You can also cut an empty soda can at a diagonal to make the perfect silken tofu scoop. Pour 2-3 tablespoons of ginger syrup over the top and garnish with ginger slices from the syrup. This dessert is traditionally served warm, but you can serve it at room temperature and even chilled.